Seeking Evidence - Part 2 (Graded)

3rd of Cylus 720

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Oberan
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Seeking Evidence - Part 2 (Graded)



3rd of Cylus 720


Previous

Since meeting with Kasoria, Oberan had been busy. Not in the sense that there was a whole lot of official work to take care of. On the contrary, there was as little of that as per usual. Instead, the Mortalborn’d been focusing his attention on Sintra’s continuing ‘benevolent’ occupation of Etzos, and her ever-growing popularity. It worried him that more and more people were being charmed by the silver-tongued Immortal, whereas the same individuals would have committed suicide at the thought of allowing a Morty to sully the streets of fair Etzos with her foul presence not a few cycles earlier.

True to her title, Sintra had successfully manipulated a large chunk of the populace into complacency, coming to terms with a loathsome creature dwelling in their midst. Before the siege on Rhakros, the idea alone wouldn’t even feature in their worst nightmares. Mentioning the possibility of Etzos serving an Immortal would get you beaten down where you stood, if you weren’t outright lynched first. Yet here they were, Sintra resided somewhere in the high spires of Etzos’ Commercial Circle –at least, so it was presumed—and few Etzori batted an eye.

Oberan’d spoken to several people about the matter, gauging the opinions of people in the streets. Only some held on to the values of the city. Mostly the older generations, those too stubborn and set in their ways. Some nutcases too, doom thinkers and conspiracy theorists. They who believed Pahrn had been replaced by a Yludih imposter years ago, and who were convinced Lord Vuda survived by eating the souls of orphaned children or street urchins. (That’s why he left the city when Lisirra attacked. You see, disease spreads easily in orphanages and homeless waifs were among the first to die from the plagues. Vuda ran out of suitable nourishment, and had to leave, lest he starve to death.) Ironically, those delusional theorists concluded Sintra was playing the long con and had set everything up in an attempt to become Etzos’ patron deity, gaining more worship and power in the process.

It made the thief question whether or not he was one of those weirdos.

Most people had simply shrugged in response to his question. Things were the same with Sintra or without her, so they actually didn’t really mind. It didn’t affect them, so it was fine. Without Sintra, Etzos would have fallen, a few spoke, it only made sense that Etzos accommodate her in return. Also, you never knew when another Immortal might try to level the city. With Sintra present, they had a reliable protector ready. It wasn’t like she was forcing the Etzori to do anything they didn’t want to anyway. People didn’t have to pay tribute to her, they didn’t have to worship. Such things were appreciated by the Immortal, but they weren’t obligatory.

No-one realized such things might come later. Perhaps not tomorrow, next cycle, or next year. Perhaps it wasn’t for this century. Yet, slowly and surely and meticulously, Sintra would condition the Etzori into devotees. Etzos wouldn’t change overnight. It would shift and develop at a snail’s pace, too slow to notice in the moment. Only when compared to what the city used to be would people realize how different things were. By that point, it would be too late. Hell, by that point, people would probably think the changes were for the better. Manipulating the populace into thinking every alteration was their own idea in the first place did sound like a very Sintra thing to do.

In that sense, the longer she remained in the city, the harder it’d be to kick her out.

Oberan needed to hurry, but gathering intelligence and evidence couldn’t be rushed. He needed time. He needed to tread carefully, as strands of Sintra’s web were everywhere.

Additionally, finding said evidence was hard enough as it was. Webspinner safehouses and hideouts were difficult to locate, and not all of them archived material that could be held against them. Oberan’d infiltrated several. Sneaking inside was easy, as was getting out. Sifting through correspondence and reports and other documents on the other hand… He wasn’t certain what to look for in the first place. All he’d found wasn’t relevant to the current situation, or it had been encrypted to the point that to him it seemed like an illiterate toddler had tried writing a letter. Since their discovery of a mole in their midst, it wasn’t inconceivable that they’d become a lot more careful too. Sensitive information might be destroyed immediately after reading.

Either way, not every Spinner’s den had useful information lying around, and even if they did, it was tough to figure out what could prove an asset. Letters and messages were all great, but could easily be forged and thus disregarded. The Mortalborn had thought about kidnapping a Spinner and make them fess up, but Sintra might convince the Etzori that the person was a paid actor. Essentially, the same problem as with the correspondence.

What Oberan needed was indisputable evidence. Something neither the Spinners, the public, or Sintra could easily dismiss. His mind went to the cube, but it had come from underneath Rhakros, and as a result could be claimed to be Lisirra’s toy.

Really, the most problematic obstacle was not the gathering of the evidence itself, but who it was supposed to be used against. Sintra was too slick, too smooth a talker. Oberan didn’t doubt for a moment that if she wanted to, she could talk herself out of just about any situation given time to work a crowd. Which she had already gotten plenty of.

To counter that, the ‘prosecutor’ accusing Sintra of masterminding the plague, the siege, and subsequent gratitude of the Etzori needed to be equally skilled in rhetoric. Someone convincing, devious, and charismatic. The kind of person who could rally a crowd with but a few words. As far as Oberan knew, the only person coming close to that ideal was Pahrn himself, and he had already been swayed by the Spider Queen.

Although, that wasn’t such a bad idea, actually. Sintra’s ploy should still be in the early stages. Pahrn should still hold more favor than her. His word had to weigh heavier than hers.

It sounded almost ridiculously simple. Surely the Immortal had planned for such things. Then again, she might not expect anyone to be able to get into Pahrn’s private quarters. That would be the place to speak without listening ears.

A simple plan, but those were said to be the best ones. For all its simplicity, the plan was also very dangerous. Risky. If the Grand Marchal refused to listen… well, he’d have to leave the city for a long while. Thrilling. A big gamble.

Despite not wanting to be that deep into this mess, Oberan liked this plan.

This was more his style.

It would still take some damn impressive evidence for the odds of this working not being infinitesimally tiny, however.

word count: 1203
Just because I shouldn't doesn't mean I won't.


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Re: Seeking Evidence - Part 2



Rifling through papers, Oberan was beginning to feel this place would be another bust. Though not the first safehouse he’d had to leave empty-handed, he could never get used to the disappointment doing so brought. Yet, it seemed inescapable. For about fifteen minutes the Mortalborn had been going through stacks of papers, finding nothing of interest. A lot had been written in some sort of code or language Oberan did not understand. Those that weren’t contained no sensitive information. Simple logistic reports, notes of suspicious individuals keeping an eye on their base, requests for an exchange of intelligence between them and another Spinner branch…

Nothing about Sintra ordering to hunt down the Mole –though he suspected that might be one of the encrypted messages—or about her plans for Etzos. No assignment to knock a bellringer off her soapbox to stop her from spreading information. No ‘be on the lookout for an artefact, and reclaim it if you see it’.

He was about to give up, but something kept him going. A simple thought. A lament. ‘If only Audrae had sent a skilled investigator or spy to work alongside him’. Like a tidal wave, curses crashed down upon whatever part of him that dared utter such nonsense. Treachery of the highest order! Perhaps he wasn’t the best at this. Perhaps he wasn’t certain what to do or how to proceed. Yes, patience was not his forte. But who else could infiltrate and search secret hideouts without being seen? That’s right, no-one! Only he could, and if he couldn’t go through all documents on the first day, he’d return a second, and a third and fourth if necessary! This was his chance, goddamnit, and he was going to do a damn fine job!

Besides, all the other hideouts he HAD come back multiple times. If he didn’t find what he searched for in the head office, he investigated the others. And the archives. Hell, he’d even go through those anyway to find MORE evidence! Quitting halfway through wouldn’t get him results either, so he might as well grit his teeth and soldier on.

Time passed. Minutes, seconds, maybe an hour. Focused on and engrossed in the task at hand, Oberan didn’t keep track. During his search, he’d moved on from the documents on the desk to those in the folders on the shelves. As it behooved a professional, Oberan made sure to put everything back like it had been. If he didn’t find anything, he rather not have the Spinners take notice of his infiltration. Even if he found something, it would be advantageous if the Webspinners weren’t aware for quite a while.

It took digging through three folders before Oberan saw his persistence rewarded. Unassuming at first, the letter was a simple one.
On orders of the Webmistress, you and yours are to evacuate the city within the next three dozen days.

You are free in your choice where to evacuate to, though it is recommended to relocate towards your back-up safehouses in the villages near Hiladrith. Naturally, you are not to arouse suspicion and are not to relocate all at once.

As per protocol, send out only one or two members at the same time every several days.

Do keep in mind other branches have received the same message.



The web of the Great Arachnid encompasses all.
Oberan was about to move on to the next document when he noticed the date. Mid Ashan of the year seven hundred and nineteen. In terms of time frame, this was written and sent somewhere between the first two dozen days of the ether storm raging and the beginning of Lisirra’s plague wiping out two thirds of Etzos’ population.

No consideration necessary, Oberan immediately summoned a small lockbox from his Vault. He folded the letter four times, placed it inside the box, and sent it back where it had come from. From what he could tell, this was the last piece of correspondence on the matter. Some more documents were included behind this one, all sporting a later timestamp. However, the dates suddenly took a jump of two seasons. Right around the time when the Etzori returned from Rhakros. Interesting. It didn’t prove much, except for the sudden absence of the Spinners during Lisirra’s attack. Ergo, Sintra knew this was going to happen.

Unfortunately, it didn’t prove anything else. Nothing to condemn her. Faced with this note she’d simply say something like: “Oh, of course I withdrew my devotees. I take care of my people. Yes, I did know my sister was going to attack and acted accordingly. Is that a crime?” Still, everything that could serve to tie Sintra to the events, everything that might help expose her as the mastermind was worth taking.

Nothing else of import was to be found inside that folder, so Oberan placed it back on the shelf and reached for the next one. He froze in place as he did. The door handle clicked. Quickly, the thief lowered his arm and began slouching. Shoulders slumping, head down, eyes towards the floor.

“I thought I’d locked that one,” a voice pondered as the door swung open.

Continued

word count: 884
Just because I shouldn't doesn't mean I won't.


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Re: Seeking Evidence - Part 2

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Oberan

Experience: 10 no magic

Knowledge:

-Investigation: rifling through papers
-Investigation: dates are important
-Investigation: put everything back where you found it
-Intelligence: speculating about Sintra's plan
-Intelligence: gauge how the populace feels about Sintra
-Intelligence: knwoing which rumors are definitely false

Renown: none

Skill Usage: Appropriate to level.

Loot/Losses: 1 unencrypted letter written by a Webspinner.

Injuries/Conditions: none

Consequences: Yet to be seen.

Comments: I found it interesting, Oberan's reflection that he might be one of the conspiratorial nutjobs that are being marginalized by Sintra. Maybe in time he will be seen as such. Whatever the case, it'll be interesting how this all falls out.

You left this one on a cliffhanger, and I eagerly await reading what comes next! Should be interesting.

If you have any concerns about this review, please PM me about them.
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